Over the next couple of weeks we will evaluate the Sixers' roster following the 10-72 season.
Next up is T.J. McConnell.
Position: Point guard
Status: Non-guaranteed for 2016-17 at $874,636.
Brett Brown repeatedly referred to McConnell as a "marine" throughout the season for his hustle approach to the game. The rookie exemplified that on Jan. 24 against the Celtics when he chased a loose ball out of bounds and gashed his lower right leg on a courtside seat. He only left the game temporarily so the team's trainer could dress the laceration.
The day following the 20-point blowout loss to the Celtics, Brown singled out McConnell. He finished the game a team-high plus-seven with eight points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 16 minutes off the bench.
"I think that everyone was poor except T.J.," Brown said.
The cut, which McConnell shook off at the time as "nothing serious," was still visible by the end of the season.
McConnell in 2015-16
McConnell was a silver lining in the Sixers' dismal season. He came into training camp an underdog for making the team, let alone earning a consistent backup role. Undrafted out of the University of Arizona last summer, McConnell fought his way through a group of more veteran players to establish out a place on the roster and the court. He averaged 6.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.2 steals in 19.8 minutes per game (17 starts).
McConnell impressed Brown with his hard-nosed style of play. He led the team in games played, missing only one after spraining his ankle on a jumpball against the Magic's Ersan Ilyasova who is eight inches taller than him.
Among rookies, he led all in total steals, tied for second in games played, ranked second in total assists (he trailed Emmanuel Mudiay by five dimes), second in assists per game and second in steals per game. He finished in the top of these categories while ranking just 17th in minutes per game.
Brown said McConnell proved himself to be an NBA player this season. Whether or not McConnell will continue that road on the Sixers remains to be seen, but he has made a strong case to stay on the roster.
McConnell could prove to be a bargain backup with his contract less than $1 million next season. He has said he refuses to get comfortable in the NBA. Expect McConnell to continue to push himself wherever he suits up next.
"The thing that I respect most about him is that he epitomizes that quality that I think might be the No. 1 thing that we need: day-to-day guys, people that you know what you're getting. He's steady, he's stable, he's personality, he's tough, he brings that edge to a game, to a practice, to a locker room. I just respect him. That's just how he's wired." -- Brown